Just when we thought we had the sexual preferences of male and female all figured out and tacked away in little neat stereotypes, someone comes up and messes it all up. It begs the question, “what do we really know?”
Read the latest study from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (July 2011) and see if what you thought you knew about the other gender still holds true!
Research in an efforts to understand the place of sexuality in human lives examined sexual and relationship parameters of middle-aged or older couples in committed, long-term relationships. The study, the first involving intact couples in ongoing relationships, interviewed more than 1,000 couples from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain, who where together an average 25 years.
The results are interesting. Contrary to stereotypes, tenderness was more important to the men than to the women. Also contrary to expectations of the researchers, men were more likely to report being happy in their relationship, while women were more likely to report being satisfied with their sexual relationship.
For men, relationship happiness was more likely if the man reported being in good health and if it was important to him that his partner experienced orgasm. Surprisingly, frequent kissing or cuddling also predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women. Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together, and if they themselves scored higher on several sexual functioning questionnaires.
Across all five nationalities, for both men and women, the Japanese were significantly happier with their relationships than Americans, and Brazilians and Spanish reported less relationship happiness than Americans.
Men and women both were likely to report sexual satisfaction if they also reported frequent kissing and cuddling, sexual caressing by the partner, higher sexual functioning, and if they had sex more frequently. On the other hand, for men, having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction.
Men did report more relationship happiness in later years, whereas for women, their sexual satisfaction increased over time. Women who had been with their partner for less than 15 years were less likely to report sexual satisfaction, but after 15 years, the percentage went up significantly.
“Possibly, women become more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes with the children grown. On the other hand, those who weren’t so happy sexually might not be married so long,” said Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction and lead author of the article.
“We recognize that relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction may not be the same thing for all couples, and in all cultures,” Heiman said. “Our next step is to understand how one person’s health, physical affection and sexual experiences relate to the relationship happiness or sexual satisfaction of his or her partner. So, we hope for more couple-centered than individual-centered understanding on relationship functioning and satisfaction.”